Ham with Red-Eye Gravy

Gravy boat with Red-Eye Gravy on a white background

Take The Red Eye
It’s September. And, I don’t know why this is, but the minute the Labor Day weekend ends, I find myself needing just a little bit more help to get going in the morning. There is no real compelling reason for this. My routine doesn’t change between August 31 and September 1. Yet, here I am reaching for the high-octane coffee.

When the kids were younger, I could blame it on the back-to-school adjustment. Now that they are either out of the house or driving themselves that excuse no longer holds water. Maybe it’s just muscle memory from those days? Either way, the reality is that I am drinking more coffee on the daily than I was pre-September. I’m drawing the line at Pumpkin Spice though…we’re not there yet.

Coffee has been on my mind, so I have been looking for ways to use it that don’t involve simply drinking it. I am thinking outside the mug as it were.

There are plenty of BBQ rubs that include coffee—and thousands of baked goods. But, you may not have heard of some unexpected uses for that extra coffee. The most notable is Red-Eye Gravy. And, though it’s very possible you have heard of it I’m pretty confident you haven’t tried it. It’s pretty old school…

Red-Eye gravy requires rendering the fat from a ham steak and combining it with coffee and spices to make a gravy. (Sounds weird but tastes good.) The hardest thing for me is having a ham steak on hand. Though I love me some Sunday morning ham and eggs.

Ham with Red-Eye Gravy Recipe
Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 4 servings

Red-Eye Gravy is nothing more than fried county ham drippings and strong black coffee—aka the perfect breakfast. The bitterness of the coffee marries well with the sweet, smoky fat of the ham. The point of Red-Eye Gravy is to enjoy every last bit of the salty, sticky, meaty glaze left in our skillets after frying slices of Southern country ham.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped fatty ham scraps
4 slices ham, 1/4-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brewed coffee

Fry up the ham
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the ham scraps until they are browned (about 5 minutes). Remove the ham scraps to a plate, reserving the grease in the pan.

Place the ham slices in the pan and cook over medium heat until they are browned (about 5 minutes on each side). Season both sides of the ham with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove the ham slices and reserve them on a plate leaving the great in the pan.

Make the gravy
Reduce the heat to medium-low and sprinkle flour over the pan drippings. Cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and pour the coffee into the pan. Cook while stirring until the gravy is well combined and thickened. Season to taste.

Before serving
Return the ham to the pan to warm through.

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